Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday 03-31-15

Fears of a new global crash as debts and dollar’s value rise

As Greece puts the finishing touches to its latest round of cuts, some economists are increasingly alarmed about the signals from the world economy
Greek ministers are spending this weekend, almost five grinding years since Athens was first bailed out, wrangling over the details of the spending cuts and economic reforms they have drawn up to appease their creditors.
As the recriminations fly between Europe’s capitals, campaigners are warning that the global community has failed to learn the lessons of the Greek debt crisis – or even of Argentina’s default in 2001, the consequences of which are still being contested furiously in courts on both sides of the Atlantic.
As Janet Yellen’s Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates, boosting the value of the dollar, while the plunging price of crude puts intense pressure on the finances of oil-exporting countries, there are growing fears of a new debt crisis in the making.
Ann Pettifor of Prime Economics, who foreshadowed the credit crunch in her 2003 book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, says: “We’re going to have another financial crisis. Brazil’s already in great trouble with the strength of the dollar; I dread to think what’s happening in South Africa; then there’s Malaysia. We’re back to where we were, and that for me is really frightening.”
Since the aftershocks of the global financial crisis of 2008 died away, the world’s policymakers have spent countless hours rewriting the banking rulebook and rethinking monetary policy. But next to nothing has been done about the question of what to do about countries that can’t repay their debts, or how to stop them getting into trouble in the first place.
Developing countries are using the UN to demand a change in the way sovereign defaults are dealt with. Led by Bolivian ambassador to the UN Sacha Sergio Llorenti, they are calling for a bankruptcy process akin to the Chapter 11 procedure for companies to be applied to governments.
Unctad, the UN’s Geneva-based trade and investment arm, has been working for several years to draw up a “roadmap” for sovereign debt resolution. It recommends a series of principles, including a moratorium on repayments while a solution is negotiated; the imposition of currency controls to prevent capital fleeing the troubled country; and continued lending by the IMF to prevent the kind of existential financial threat that roils world markets and causes severe economic hardship.
If a new set of rules could be established, Unctad believes, “they should help prevent financial meltdown in countries facing difficulties servicing their external obligations, which often results in a loss of market confidence, currency collapse and drastic interest rates hikes, inflicting serious damage on public and private balance sheets and leading to large losses in output and employment and a sharp increase in poverty”.
It calls for a once-and-for-all write-off, instead of the piecemeal Greek-style approach involving harsh terms and conditions that knock the economy off course and can ultimately make the debt even harder to repay. The threat of a genuine default of this kind could also help to constrain reckless lending by the private sector in the first place.
However, when these proposals were put to the UN general assembly last September, a number of developed countries, including the UK and the US, voted against it, claiming the UN was the wrong forum to discuss the proposal, which is anathema to powerful financial institutions.
Pettifor shares some of the UK and US’s scepticism. “The problem for me is that the UN has no leverage here,” she says. “It can make these moralistic pronouncements but ultimately it’s the IMF and the governments that make the decisions.”
Nevertheless, Llorenti has been touring the world’s capitals making the case for change, and hopes to bring the issue back for fresh discussions next month.
And while the debate rages, developing countries have been taking advantage of rock-bottom interest rates and the cheap money created by quantitative easing to stack up billions in new debt.
Using recently released World Bank data, the Jubilee Debt Campaign calculates that in 2013 alone – the latest period for which figures are available – borrowing by developing countries was up 40% to $17.3bn.
Brazil’s economy is likely to be seriously tested as the greenback rises; Turkey, Malaysia and Chile have large dollar-denominated debts and sliding currencies; and a string of African countries face sharp rises in debt repayments. Ghana and Zambia have already had to turn to the IMF to ask for help. It’s as if, as Pettifor warns, “absolutely nothing has changed since the crisis”.


Legislation to end online anonymity advancing in multiple states

A few weeks ago, we wrote about Florida's proposed law, which would require any website that hosts audio or video to reveal their name and address. This could have disastrous consequences for whistleblowers or anonymous critics. In the US, the Supreme Court has long recognized the importance of protecting anonymity as a part of the First Amendment, but this bill does away with that completely, just because the movie and music industries think it's necessary to stop piracy (even though it won't do that). Unfortunately, it appears that despite widespread criticism, the Florida bill is expected to move forward this week. If you happen to live in Florida, the EFF has set up a tool to help you alert your elected representatives to why such a bill is a terrible and unconstitutional idea.
You can try to stop the
Florida version. It's too late in Tennessee. There's another effort in California.

These idiots need to stop trying to destroy the internet.



Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday 03-30-15

Well it seems you can hurt the molesters feelings.  It has been in print somewhere, that more people have died in the back of Ted Kennedy's car than the TSA has stopped any terrorist acts.  Not sure if it is true, but they have terrorized a lot honest travelers.  I saw this in Survival Blog over the weekend.

This Is How TSA Decides if You Might Be Acting Like a Terrorist

March 27, 2015 Next time you go through airport security, do your best to avoid yawning, whistling, or complaining too much: Any of those behaviors could make you look like a terrorist in the eyes of a Transportation Security Administration screening agent, according to newly disclosed government documents.
A secret 92-point checklist, obtained and published Friday by The Intercept, reveals for the first time what kind of passenger behavior can merit a red flag for TSA agents responsible for pulling possible terrorists and criminals out of airport security lines.
The checklist reveals a step-by-step process for assessing whether passengers deserve additional scrutiny. Those deemed suspicious under "observation and behavior analysis" are pulled aside and searched for "unusual items" such as almanacs and prepaid calling cards. During the inspection, TSA agents are also instructed to look for "signs of deception," which can include a fast rate of eye-blinking.
Other suspicious signs listed include exaggerated yawning, gazing down, a pale face due to a recent beard shaving, widely open staring eyes, wearing of "improper attire," and arriving late for a flight.

The program, known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, has been in use nationwide since 2007 and has cost taxpayers upwards of $1 billion dollars.
SPOT has been dogged with accusations that it is based on pseudoscience and promotes racial and ethnic profiling among the some 3,000 TSA agents tasked with observing unusual behavior. Two years ago, a review by the Government Accountability Office found no clear evidence that the protocol used by SPOT-trained agents to detect terrorists was any better than random selection. The GAO report recommended that Congress halt funding for the program.
Despite the scathing conclusions, however, the SPOT program has continued, and its screening checklist has been kept largely secret until now. Its backers say the program is an essential layer of TSA's multipronged airport security approach and expressly forbids any kind of discriminatory profiling.
In a statement, a TSA spokesman said the agency would not comment on or confirm the checklist published by The Intercept.
"Behavior-analysis techniques that have been successfully employed by law enforcement and security personnel both in the U.S. and internationally," the spokesman said. "No single behavior alone will cause a traveler to be referred to additional screening or will result in a call to a law enforcement officer."

The "observation and behavior analysis" section of the checklist adheres to a point-counting formula to determine which passengers should be referred for a screening. Designated stress factors, such as "strong body order," count for 1 point. Fear factors, like "bulges in clothing" or "rigid posture," count for 2 points. Finally, deception factors—appearing confused or in disguise or repeatedly patting upper body with hands—count for 3 points.
TSA agents are directed to refer passengers who score 4 or 5 points to a screening. Passengers that score at least 6 points are referred to a screening and reported to a law-enforcement officer.
The formula allows for some subtraction. Traveling as a member of a family will deduct 2 points from a passenger's score, as will the appearance of traveling as a married couple where both spouses are 55 or older. Women over the age of 55 and men over the age of 65 are deemed "low risk" and can have one point subtracted.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued TSA for access to records related to the SPOT program's efficacy, which the agency has so far refused to hand over.
"What we know about SPOT suggests it wastes taxpayer money, leads to racial profiling, and should be scrapped," said Hugh Handeyside, staff lawyer with the ACLU. "The TSA has insisted on keeping documents about SPOT secret, but the agency can't hide the fact that there's no evidence the program works. The discriminatory racial profiling that SPOT has apparently led to only reinforces that the public needs to know more about how this program is used and with what consequences for Americans' rights."
The SPOT program has also in recent years attracted the scrutiny of lawmakers in both parties skeptical of its efficacy and concerned about the high price tag. In 2013, Rep. Mark Sanford, a South Carolina Republican, extensively questioned former Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole at a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing about whether the SPOT program held any merit or was necessary given the other layers of airport security.
"You go through a screening system which essentially undresses somebody, you send their equipment through radar detection and other devices," Sanford said. "The question is, from a civil-liberties standpoint, given those other tests, do you in addition have to go through a screening process based on somebody's interpretation of what might be in your brain?"
Pistole was resolute in his defense of the program, but conceded, "There's no perfect science, there's no perfect art of this." He told Sanford that the value in the SPOT program was difficult to measure, as it had only led to only a handful of arrests—none on terrorism charges—but that it aided in deterrence.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday 03-29-15

China jails Christian pastor who fought church demolitions

Hundreds of supporters surround a courtroom in east China as Pastor Huang Yizi is jailed for one year

A Chinese preacher who opposed an “anti-church” demolition campaign that saw hundreds of places of worship partially or completely destroyed has been jailed for one year on charges supporters claim are trumped up.
Huang Yizi, 40, was sentenced before a packed courtroom on Tuesday afternoon for “gathering crowds to disturb social order,” Zhang Kai, his lawyer, said.
“I think the whole trial was manipulated by the authorities,” Mr Zhang told The Telegraph, adding that his client would appeal.
The lawyer said around 1,000 Christian supporters gathered outside the court in Pingyang County in the eastern province of Zhejiang. He met his the pastor before the hearing and believed “his state of mind was good”.
Last year Mr Huang, who has a wife and young son, said he was “grateful that God has given him the chance" to go to prison for speaking out against the demolition of churches and crosses in Zhejiang province where he is from.
At least 400 churches were affected by the one-year campaign that saw elderly Christians repeatedly try to defend their places of worship from demolition teams and security guards. Authorities denied Christian churches were being targeted claiming they were taking action against all “illegal structures”. ]
The pastor’s sentencing followed claims from one Chinese bishop that Beijing had ordered an end to the demolitions in Zhejiang.
An "internal order" to “stop demolishing” had been issued by central government, according to Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu, the deputy chairman of the Communist Party-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday 03-28-15

What's Your Pa$$word? Secure Your Organization by Securing Your Accounts

The topic of password security has been spoken about continually for the past two decades. However, passwords continue to be a problem for almost every organization, and "password" and "qwerty" are still among the most common passwords in the world. Let's go through seven basic facts about authentication and see if your accounts are as secure as they should be.
  1. Everybody should know the basics of how passwords are cracked. For your security, most passwords are stored and transmitted in an encrypted form. There are two ways a hacker can decrypt, or "crack" your passwords. The first is "brute force". This requires generating every possible combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, encrypting each one the same way, and checking if the result matches your encrypted password. For longer passwords, this can be very time consuming. The faster option is a "dictionary" attack, which means checking the encrypted password against the encrypted results of a large dictionary of known words or names. So, passwords that are words are generally significantly easier to decrypt than random strings or phrases.
  2. We've all been trained to think about password creation wrong. Years of password instructions have made us think of passwords in a faulty way. We've been brainwashed into creating one or two-word passwords containing a numbers and punctuation, like ‘P@55w0rd!'. Oddly, in most cases there is no longer anything that limits us to a single word. Most modern software allows for very long passwords, and it's more secure to use a passphrase, or a short sentence. A sentence is easy to remember, contains spaces and some punctuation, and can easily contain a number if required. I can't demonstrate this more succinctly than xkcd.com:carhart02.png
  3. Hackers know all of your password tricks. Password-cracking software has evolved to the point where it can automatically check for words in which letters have been replaced by numbers. Numbers and punctuation at the end can be ignored as well (forget adding the month or year). Checking all these possibilities may take longer, but today the distinction is seconds or minutes, not hours or days. See if you can find any of your ‘tricks' in the built-in options in the password cracking software Cain:carhart01.png
  4. Hackers love it when you reuse your passwords. Nothing will make Jane Hacker happier than cracking the password to your home PC, then finding it opens your Twitter account and your work email, too. I'm not naïve enough to expect everyone to memorize long, complicated passwords. If you're having trouble, use a reputable password manager, like Keepass or Lastpass, which can generate strong passwords and store them securely for your use.
  5. Hackers also love it when you don't change your passwords. There are endless ways that your passwords could be stolen; both in and outside of your control. Presume that at some point, your passwords will be intercepted or stolen from a third party. It does take time for thieves to decrypt large numbers of passwords when they are stolen in bulk, or sell them on the black market. The bottom line is: Changing your passwords on a regular basis is a real simple thing that you can do to help protect yourself.
  6. The password really is dead. Michael Barrett of PayPal stated fittingly this year, "Passwords, when used ubiquitously everywhere at Internet scale, are starting to fail us." More powerful computers, easy-to-use hacking tools, and shared resources have made it a trivial effort for anybody to crack passwords. Organizations and developers need to find new ways to authenticate users. Which leads us to…
  7. Everybody should be using two-factor authentication. Most large social networking, financial, and email websites now support two-factor authentication. This means using a combination of something you know (such as your password or pin number), and something you have (a token, mobile phone, your fingerprint, or a smart card) to authenticate you. Checking a text message on your mobile phone to log into Gmail provides a drastic increase in your security in exchange for a small inconvenience.
Over the next decade, it is very likely we will see more methods of authenticating users without passwords. Organizations are moving in the right direction. The Bank of Utah is monitoring the way users type, while Motorola Mobility has gone so far as to imagine a world where we take pills or use tattoos to log into computers. Unfortunately, it is also likely we will still see passwords in use at work and at home for many years to come. Good password practices and awareness can help decrease the risk associated with them.


Ford's new car will force you to obey the speed limit

Much as we'd like to emulate our NASCAR heroes, breaking the speed limit often comes at a price. Ford is hoping to prevent accidents and speeding tickets by introducing cars that can see what the speed limit is and preventing heavy-footed motorists from driving any faster. Ford's Intelligent Speed Limiter tech will first appear on the new Ford S-Max that's launching in Europe that could just change the way that we drive.
A camera mounted on the windshield scans the road signs on the sides of the highway and, when the vehicle enters a 20mph zone, the system reduces the top speed to match. Rather than controlling the speed with automatic braking, the car limits its own velocity by adjusting the amount of fuel being pushed to the engine.
If a burst of speed is required, however, users can either deactivate the system by pressing a button on the console or temporarily get past it with a hard press on the gas pedal. If the vehicle is coasting downhill and starts to build up speed, the car will sense its motion and sound an alarm to get you braking. It's not the only bit of new safety tech available on the new whip, either, since deep-pocketed motorists can also get pedestrian detection and collision warnings. That frees drivers up to wonder why any car firm would call a car SMAX and think we wouldn't notice.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday 03-27-15


Does this really surprise anyone?

FBI figures tweaked to show phony increase in mass shootings, report says

Crime stats published by the FBI and relied upon by the media distort the gun violence and leave the public with the impression "mass shooting" incidents are a much bigger threat than they really are, according to a criminologist and Second Amendment scholar.
The bureau's annual reports tabulating and classifying a wide range of crime throughout the nation have been historically free of politics, but John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said the latest statistics contain numbers that are misleading at best and deliberately fudged at worst. Lott believes the numbers may have been presented to overstate for political purposes the true risk of being a victim of random gun crimes.
"The FBI put out a clearly incorrect set of numbers on public shootings shortly before the November election last year,” said Lott, a frequent opinion writer for FoxNews.com and author of "More Guns, Less Crime." “I have been reading FBI reports for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this.It is one thing for the Bureau of Justice Statistics or the National Institute of Justice to put out politically biased studies, but there has always been a Chinese wall separating the FBI raw data collection from political pressures.”
Asked for comment, Katherine Schweit, the FBI's section chief of the bureau's Active Shooter Initiative, said only Tuesday night that its report isolates active shooter incidents and evaluates available data based on methodology detailed on the FBI's official website.
“Since 1976, there have been ups and downs in incidents but there has been no trend upward or downward in mass shootings.”- Prof. James Alan Fox, Northeastern University.
FBI figures released last September appear to show so-called "mass shooter" attacks and deaths have dramatically increased since 2000. The report asserted there were a total 160 such incidents in public places between 2000 and 2013, with attacks dramatically increased to 17 in 2013 from just one in 2000. The statistics also showed murders jumping to 86 from just seven over the span.
But Lott's group said a major flaw is the fact that the data was gleaned from news reports, and noted recent accounts were more accessible, and thus over-represented. Recent cases of the far more common “active shooting incidents” were added to legitimate cases of mass shooting incidents, making the more recent years covered by the report appear to have a large increase in both mass shootings and deaths from them.

The media most often took the numbers at face value, allowing for the perception of an increase in mass shootings and deaths from them, Lott said. A counter report by the CPRC shows that if the biases and errors were corrected, the Bureau’s data would show that the annual growth rate for homicides in mass shootings had been cut in half, Lott said.
He suspects manipulation, and not merely mistakes.
“The administration has obviously been willing to do a lot to push for gun control; with everything from ‘Operation Choke Point’ to ‘Fast and Furious,’ and this is just part of that push. Given the level of politicization in [the] Department of Justice, this is not particularly surprising.”
However, in an introduction from a copy of the report, the authors did appear to differentiate between “mass killings” and “active shooter incidents.”
“In 2013, the president signed into law the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, which granted the attorney general the authority to assist in the investigation of ‘violent acts and shootings occurring in a place of public use’ and in the investigation of ‘mass killings and attempted mass killings at the request of an appropriate law enforcement official of a state or political subdivision,’” read the report. “To provide further clarity on these threats, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2014 initiated a study of ‘active shooter’ incidents.”

In a September press release touting their findings, the Bureau stated:
"[W]e believe the information contained in this study can benefit anyone who could potentially be in an active shooter situation—like emergency personnel, employees of retail corporations and other businesses, educators and students, government and military personnel, members of the general public, etc.—by giving them a better understanding of how these incidents play out."
James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law, and public policy at Northeastern University, agreed that the FBI numbers were being misinterpreted to overstate the incidents and risks of mass shootings. But he blamed the media, not the FBI.
“The media misinterpreted the report,” Fox said. “An active shooter incident is not the same as a mass shooting.”
Fox said using news reports to compile crime statistics is not a reliable method, and said his own research has found no upward trend in mass shootings.
“Since 1976, there have been ups and downs in incidents but there has been no trend upward or downward in mass shootings,” he said.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday 03-26-15

Price of Ground Beef Hits Record in February: $4.238 Per Pound

(CNSNews.com) - The average price of a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high in February, hitting $4.238 per pound, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
ground beef
Ground beef. (AP Photo)

In August 2014, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time, hitting $4.013, according to the BLS.
In September, the average price jumped to $4.096 per pound; in October, the average price climbed to $4.154 per pound; and in November, the average price climbed to $4.201 per pound.
In December, the price declined slightly to $4.156 per pound. In January 2015, ground beef hit $4.235 per pound and in February 2015, according to the latest data from the BLS, the price of ground beef hit the highest level ever recorded of $4.238.
A year ago, in February 2014, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.555 per pound. Since then, the average price has increased 19.2 percent in one year.
Five years ago, in February 2010, the average price of a pound of ground beef was $2.277, according to the BLS. The price has since climbed by $1.961 per pound, or an increase of 86.1 percent.

The overall Consumer Price Index measures the relative change in the prices of a basket of goods and services relative to a basis of 100.  Subordinate indexes measure the relative change in price for individual goods or services or categories of goods and services.
While the price of ground beef increased over the month, the overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased as well. “The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. “Over the last 12 months, the all items index was unchanged before seasonal adjustment.”
“The food index increased 0.2 percent in February,” said the BLS. “Also turning up in February was the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which rose 0.3 percent after declining slightly the prior month. The index for beef and veal rose 0.7 percent, its thirteenth consecutive increase.”

The Terracotta Army Crossbow That could Shoot Twice as Far as a Modern-Day Rifle

Archaeologists unearth 2,200-year-old weapon at historic Chinese site

A 2,200-year-old crossbow which some experts believe could have been almost twice as powerful as a modern-day assault rifle has been discovered among the Terracotta Warriors.
The crossbow, which was found intact this week, could have shot an arrow up to 2,600 feet – about the length of nine football pitches, the People’s Daily Online reported.
The discovery is particularly exciting as experts believe the crossbow may hold the secret to the success of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
The crossbow, which was found half-buried next to one of the terracotta statues, was discovered by archaeologists working at the site.
It is the first time archaeologists have seen a complete version of the weapon, although they previously found 10 more broken crossbows in the same pit.
The bow measures almost five feet in length, with a height of about 50 inches.
Its size suggests that it was one of the most powerful bows of its era. Historical texts indicate that its firing range could have been up to 2,600 feet, according to Huashang Newspaper, which is double the range of an assault rifle, which is about 1,300 feet.
Some historians believe that analysis of a number of historical texts shows that the crossbow was integral to several important military victories of the period.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday 03-25-15

Because we have solved all the other problems...

Democrats Take Aim at Liquid Detergent Packaging

“Now that’s pretty attractive,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, eyeing a half dollar-sized packet of liquid laundry detergent on Thursday morning, before stroking the squishy blue orb against his well-tanned jaw.
“And it feels really nice to the touch,” the Florida Democrat cooed. “And it smells good,” he added, coaxing a reporter covering the news conference on liquid detergent package poisoning to pass his prop on to the cameramen. “Pass it on because until you touch it, you don’t realize how attractive it is.”
Nelson’s theatrical performance elicited some laughter during an otherwise somber presentation that featured a mother whose 8-month-old daughter ended up in intensive care after biting into one of the colorful, bite-sized packages of highly concentrated, single-load detergent. Liquid detergent packaging exposure is also linked to the death of a 7-month-old boy in Florida.
“It ought to be common sense that things that are attractive are going to enter into the mouth of an infant,” Nelson said. He also took a quick swipe at one of Democrats’ favorite foes, e-cigarettes, comparing the colorful detergent to liquid vials of nicotine.
In response to recent poisonings, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin has introduced legislation that would give the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission the authority and direction to issue rules requiring safer, child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent products within 18 months of enactment. Six Senate Democrats, including Nelson, are co-sponsoring the bill.
Durbin and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., sponsor of companion legislation, also wrote to the commission, asking them to help. “The problem with that is government moves slowly,” Durbin said. “And while the government is moving slowly, if it does move in the right direction, kids are at risk.”
Nelson, Durbin and Speier called on industry giants, starting with Procter & Gamble, to add protections to their products. They suggest changing the design and color of the liquid detergent packets to make them less appealing to children, changing the composition of the packets to make consequences of exposure less severe and adding proper warning labels.
“If it had a bitter taste to it, the kid might spit it out right off the bat,” Durbin said. The lawmakers plan to abandon the bill if those voluntary standards are accepted and put into practice. Durbin urged the industry: “Don’t wait. Do it yourself, and do it in a hurry, because kids lives are at risk here.”


Army Curtails M855A1 & M80A1 Ammo Use In Live Fire Shoot Houses

Early this year, the US Army released guidance curtailing the use of M855A1 and M80A1 enhanced performance ammunition in live fire shoot houses until further notice due to over penetration of ballistic backer materials in the structures.
R 061517Z JAN 15


4. (U) POC: Redacted by me.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday 03-23-15

Is NYC’s new gunshot detection system recording private conversations?

As Tyrone Lyles lay dying from a gunshot wound on an East Oakland street in 2007, he let out a few last words that would ultimately help authorities convict his killer.
“Why you done me like that, Ar?” he pleaded. “Ar, why you do me like that, dude?”
The exchange, which was used in court, was recorded by ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system that has been installed in over 90 cities across the country. By placing a series of microphones around high-crime neighborhoods, the system is able to pinpoint the location of where a gunshot took place with surprising accuracy, leading to faster response times from police.
This week, 300 of the microphones were activated in Brooklyn and the Bronx as part of a citywide pilot program.



I spy...then sell the data: Orbital's bet on satellites and drones

Imagine making an investment decision based on intelligence gathered from a satellite or drone image. James Crawford is betting people will do exactly that.
The founder and CEO of Orbital Images saw an untapped potential in the increase of surveillance hardware and decided to create software to analyze the images.
With the world of drones on the rise—federal regulators expect the industry to expand into a $90 billion business, compared to an estimated $720 million in sales last year—Orbital's goal is to capture global socioeconomic trends and sell it to hedge funds, real estate developers and other organizations.
"The really exciting thing about today's world and about what's going on in satellite imagery is that more and more satellites are being launched," Crawford told CNBC's "Closing Bell" in a recent interview. His company has "processed as many as a million images of parking lots. From that volume of imagery we can actually learn a great deal," he said.
What those parking lots tell him, for example, is how many cars are outside retail shops.
"We can actually track retail traffic in 60 major retailers and see whether or not it's up or down compared to past years," Crawford said. "That's one of the single most important things for retailers—how many people are coming in the door."
Read MoreJobs for drones are set to take off
The start-up has also measured the rate of construction in China and the fluctuations in global crude oil inventories as well as forecast the end-of-season crop harvest.

Big Brother is watching?

Shadow detection shows global oil inventory.
Orbital Insight | DigitalGlobe
Shadow detection shows global oil inventory.
Orbital's business model is part of what some observers see as potentially thorny privacy issues, as civilian drones and satellites increasingly take to the skies. In a report last year, the Brookings Institution predicted private surveillance tech operators would soon outnumber their government counterparts, and said the rise of drone use "pose[s] real if manageable privacy risks."
For its part, Orbital insists its technology shouldn't raise alarm bells. While some may be concerned about Big Brother watching from above, Crawford said there are limits on the image's resolution and individuals cannot be seen.
"We can count cars, but even when we count cars we can't tell one car from another. The imagery itself and the federal limits on imagery put a major barrier to any sort of privacy issues," he said.
"Furthermore ... the whole reason we exist is to use big-data techniques and artificial intelligence techniques to really understand things at scale because that's where we think the real value is out of this data stream," Crawford added.
Read More Data, technology helping to transform sports watching: Exec
There are also no insider trading implications for anyone who uses the information when making investment decisions, because the data are considered in the public domain, Crawford said.
Orbital Insight recently announced it partnered with the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital to raise $8.7 million in funding.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday 03-22-15

Priesthood of the Believer

When a person receives Christ as their personal savior, over forty things occur at that moment or in that instance.  One of those is that they become a priest.  We call this the priesthood of the believer.
1 Peter 2:5 states Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Online Bible Teaching
In the Old Testament God choose the Levites, a particular tribe, to represent him, and be the mediator between himself and his people.  God primarily used sacrifices as a means for people to have their sins forgiven, praise him, worship him, or even just acknowledge him.  Every year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would offer a blood sacrifice in order to make at one (or atone) the division of the people of Israel and their God.  But in the new testament, Christ is our high priest, and we are priests.  That provides us with three unique traits that we possess.
I wrote a Free eBook entitled: Studying The Bible – A Step-by-Step Approach to Rightly Dividing. Get your FREE copy by clicking here.
1) Direct Access to God
As a born-again believer, that has accepted Christ, you no longer need to go through a man, group, church, or organization to have access to God. Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
You have a unique privilege to communicate directly with the God of the Universe.  We just need to have the boldness to approach unto Him.  Many feel the need / pressure to go through someone.  But the veil has been rent, unveiling the mystery, freely open to all. Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Benny Beckum, been taught the need for fervent praying during his wife’s sickness and death, Dr. Beckum was given the burden and ministry of calling the local Church back to genuine prayer  He opens every service, by asking the audience, “ Have you talked to the Father today?”.  God is ready to hear, we just need to approach  him.
2) Offering spiritual sacrifices
Peter not only states that we are priests, but like those Old Testament priests, we are also to offer sacrifices.  But spiritual sacrifices.  God doesn’t want a bull or goat, he wants a spiritual (something that you can touch) sacrifice (something that costs you).  Below are a couple of spiritual sacrifices that we as believers can offer to God:
  • To love him – Mark 12:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
  •  Present our bodies holy – Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
  • To walk in Love – Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
  •  To supply the needs of others – Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
  • Praise to God, give thanks, do good and give – Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
3) Intercede for others
When the Old Testament priests would offer sacrifices, it really did not benefit them.  Yes they were fulfilling God’s will for their lives, but the true cost came from the sacrificer, the person giving the possession that is going to be sacrificed.  The sacrificer could not make the sacrifice for himself, he had to go through a priest ( As Saul demonstrated in 1 Sam 13).  The same is true for us.
Part of our spiritual priesthood role, is to intercede for the benefit of others.  Romans 12:1-3 states, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2)  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. (3)  For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
The strong should help bear the week.  That can be done through prayer, giving, physical support, lending a  helping hand, offering a listening ear, provide a consoling smile, and many other ways.  As priests, we should edify and supply for others, saved or lost.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Online Bible Teaching, where I’m striving to focus on teaching the Biblical truths of the scriptures to enhance your personal and spiritual life. Have any questions about the Bible? Please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me, and I’ll do my best to help.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday 03-21-15

Family court to father: No guns in the house until child is 18

But last week’s In re Parentage of M.A.R.R. (Ill. Ct. App. Mar. 11, 2015) reversed the order. Here’s a quick summary:
1. Andrea and Kurt were never married, but they have a now-2-year-old daughter, M.A.R.R. After the parents split up, the trial court eventually gave custody of M.A.R.R. to Kurt.
2. But Kurt had a gun collection — four pistols, one shotgun, and six rifles. “The guns are kept in a safe in his bedroom, and the door to his bedroom has a key pad access code on it. He keeps his bedroom door locked when the children are around.”
With regard to Kurt’s gun collection, in its letter opinion the trial court noted that Kurt, Andrea and both of Andrea’s parents testified that guns were kept in a locked safe in a closet and behind a locked door to Kurt’s bedroom. Although Andrea’s father testified that he once saw a gun in the garage, the court found that he had no specific information about this incident and no one else corroborated it.
However, then the court found that it did “not wish to minimize the concern it has for the child’s safety, and finds that it is not in the best interests of a child to have multiple guns and ammunition in a home.” In the judgment order, the court ordered Kurt to remove all guns and ammunition from his home within 24 hours and ordered that guns were not permitted back into the home at any time until the child has attained the age of 18.
3. Kurt appealed, arguing, in relevant part, that the no-guns order was unjustified and violated the Second Amendment. Andrea appealed, arguing in part that one of the custody factors, “the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, favors her because while there was no expert testimony of Kurt’s mental health, [his gun collection, among other things,] indicates that he has mental health issues and is a risk to M.A.R.R. We are not persuaded.”
4. The court quickly rejected this argument of Andrea’s, holding that “the fact that he legally collected guns has no bearing on his mental health status.” And it accepted Kurt’s argument that he shouldn’t have been ordered not to possess guns. (Note that the order, in context, seemed to have been a condition of getting custody — if he chose to keep the guns, then presumably the trial court would have given custody to Andrea.)
Kurt’s last argument is that the trial court erred when it ordered him to remove all guns and ammunition from his home within 24 hours and prohibited him from having guns brought back into his home until M.A.R.R. had attained the age of 18. In support of his contention, he claims: (1) there is no evidence in the record to justify this order; and (2) the order violates his Second Amendment right to bear arms.
We need not address Kurt’s constitutional issue because, based upon the evidence presented at trial, we hold that the trial court erred by inserting this clause into the judgment order. See Mulay v. Mulay, 225 Ill. 2d 601, 607 (2007) (as a general rule, courts will address constitutional issues only as a last resort, relying whenever possible on nonconstitutional grounds to decide cases).
In its letter opinion, the trial court noted that extensive testimony was given regarding Kurt’s collection of guns. It acknowledged that Kurt, Andrea, and both of Andrea’s parents testified that the guns were kept in a locked safe in a closet located behind a locked door to Kurt’s bedroom. Although the court noted that Andrea’s father testified that he thought he once saw a gun in the garage, it also said that the father had no specific information about the gun, and that no one else at trial corroborated that incident. Nevertheless, the court went on to find that it was not in the child’s best interests to have multiple guns and ammunition in a home.
Based upon the evidence presented at trial, as well as the trial court’s own specific findings, it was not reasonable for the court to place such a restriction on Kurt’s lawful possession of ammunition or guns without any evidence of danger to the child. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s ruling on this issue …


Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday 03-20-15

Inside the Ring: Special Ops targets social media
By Bill Gertz
U.S. special operations forces, elite commandos engaged in high-risk operations around the world, are adding a new focus to their portfolio of activities: social media and other unconventional information warfare threats.
"Social media is another component of unconventional strategies, and the security environment in general, that is playing a central role in recruiting individuals to causes," Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said Wednesday in prepared testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.
"We must therefore develop our ability to interact with key influencers through this medium, or else risk blinding ourselves to this important conduit of information and influence in unfolding crises," Gen. Votel said.
Terrorists have been using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate, recruit and propagandize their activities. Russia, China, North Korea and Iran also have stepped up the use of nonkinetic information warfare efforts to advance their interests in territorial disputes and other areas.
"We all must view this space as a routine operational area: It is redefining how humans interact. Our success in leveraging these tools will be determined by how well we cultivate the networks in which we participate," the four-star general said.
Social networks are "not 'our' networks - the very nature of these relationship tools is decentralized and participatory, rather than centrally controlled," he said. "We require new thinking on this subject."
Military efforts to counter and deter unconventional information warfare must be joined with other government agencies efforts to deal with the problem, he added.
Unconventional warfare is an increasing feature of the current security environment, and Gen. Votel called for holding an in-depth discussion on how to deal with the issue.
Gen. Votel also said that the 69,000 people who make up the elite U.S. special operations force are under stress from long and frequent deployments over the past 14 years.
In recent years, the average commando has been deployed between four and 10 times, with most deployed at the higher end. By contrast, conventional forces soldiers averaged slightly more than one deployment. Special operations forces (SOF) commandos also experience less than 12 months between deployments, putting stress on their families.
"High operational tempo has put a strain on both our operators and their families, and most, if not all, of our SOF operators have lost friends both overseas and at home," Gen. Votel said.
More than 2,500 commandos have been wounded or killed in action in recent conflicts, and many of the 7,500 members in the SOF Warrior Foundation are suffering from traumatic stress. Suicide remains a problem.
On the positive side, Gen. Votel said American SOF troops are battle-hardened, agile and experienced warriors who are shifting their focus to dealing with new threats like Russia, information warfare and cyberattacks.
Current threats include the Islamic State terrorist group that is challenging Middle Eastern governments and "rising powers" - code for China - that are seeking to expand claims of sovereignty, he said.
Michael D. Lumpkin, assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, testified with Gen. Votel. Mr. Lumpkin said current SOF strikes against the Islamic State are not expected to expand outside Iraq or Syria. But SOF operations outside those states could take place against Islamic State leaders in the future, he said, along with other covert operations such as rescuing hostages.
Japan seeks new spy service
As part of efforts to play a leading role in regional security, Japan's government is drafting plans for the establishment of a foreign intelligence service that is expected to be modeled after the CIA or Britain's MI6, according to a senior Japanese government official.
A report on the new spy service is being drafted and is expected to be completed in April or May, the senior official said. Setting up an actual service is expected to take longer.
"It is something that the Prime Minister [ Shinzo Abe] and Chief Cabinet Secretary [ Yoshihide Suga] are looking at," said the senior official, adding that it would be small and likely similar to MI6, the British secret service.
If approved, the service would be the first of its kind since the 1930s, when the Imperial Japanese Army dispatched spies abroad.
One of the problems with Japan's current intelligence system is that it has been dominated by the National Police Agency, which, like the FBI, is run by a law enforcement culture that seeks arrests and prosecutions rather than dedicated spying.
The Japanese government's intelligence structure is led by the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, which is mainly involved in analysis.
Japan, under Mr. Abe, has taken a proactive role in regional security. The prime minister has traveled to India to seek closer ties with New Delhi, and is working with the Australian government and governments in Southeast Asia for closer cooperation. Tokyo hopes to sell several diesel electric submarines to the Australian navy, and will provide military training and support for Southeast Asian nations.
Mr. Abe's efforts come as China has engaged in a vehement propaganda campaign through its state-controlled media targeting Japan. Daily stories and statements by Chinese officials have sought to portray more assertive Japanese regional policies as a return to World War II militarism, charges rejected by Japanese officials.
The intelligence service would be part of Japan's efforts to counter an increasingly hostile China and its expansive territorial claims in Asia.
The spy agency plans were given new impetus following the videotaped murders of two Japanese nationals by the Islamic State.
The plans are being coordinated by Japan's new National Security Secretariat, modeled after the White House National Security Council. The secretariat has proved successful in coordinating policies, the official said. It is made up of key officials, including the prime minster, the chief Cabinet secretary, foreign and defense ministers and secretariat staff.
The coordinating body is working well and gaining support and cooperation within Japan's bureaucracy, whose bureaucrats are known to be highly turf-conscious, the senior official said.
"In an age when we don't know when or where Japanese lives will be at risk we need to collect more overseas information," Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Takeshi Iwaya told Reuters, which first disclosed the plans earlier this month.
Japan's fascist military political police and intelligence group operated from the 1880s to 1945, and was known as the Kempeitai, or Military Police Corps. It was in charge of gathering secrets around the world on behalf of the Imperial Japanese Army.
Playing down the China threat
Although the military and security threat to U.S. interests in Asia is growing, the Obama administration is continuing to play down the threat.
New evidence emerged Wednesday in House testimony by Navy and Marine Corps officials, who clearly identified threats posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
However, Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, and Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Andrew W. O'Donnell Jr. offered a novel description of China, which has alarmed Asia-Pacific states with threats and bullying in the South China Sea and East China Sea and making territorial and maritime claims far outside international law.
Adm. Donegan and Gen. O'Donnell, in a joint testimony on the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard strategy, described the threat as "the potential for opportunities and challenges with a rising China."
The officers said defending the nation and winning wars are "core tasks" of Navy forces.
"The Navy and Marine Corps' fundamental mission is war-fighting," they said. "Due to the threats from violent extremist organizations like ISIL, threats from North Korea and Iran, potential for opportunities and challenges with a rising China, and recent Russian aggression, the sea services - the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard - must have the capabilities and capacities to defeat any adversary and defend the homeland and our allies and partners worldwide."
Job No. 1 for the services remains "to deter aggression and, if deterrence fails, to fight and win our nation's wars."
The hedging in accurately describing the threat posed by China - which is building up large-scale offensive conventional and strategic nuclear forces - is said by critics to be part of an Obama administration fiat that requires all government agencies and departments to play down threatening Chinese activities as part of policies designed to woo the communist state into friendly relations.
But the failure to accurately describe the nature of problems posed by China is undermining U.S. national security by preventing development of honest security policies, according to the late Reagan administration national security official Constantine Menges.
As Menges wrote in his 2005 book, "China: The Gathering Threat": "It is important to tell the truth about Communist China. Its actions demonstrate that while pursuing active commercial diplomacy to enhance its economic development [while] mostly avoiding visible conflict, China is also an expansionist, coercive and manipulative dictatorship."
"Pretending that China is a peaceful and cooperative power did not make it so, nor will it do so in the future," he wrote.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday 03-19-15

Sorry going through a busy time at work.

Because you are too dumb to know what is good for you and they are smarter than you so they believe they should control your every part of your life and your decisions. 

EPA to attack backyard barbecues and lawn mowers

Washington Examiner via InstapunditThe agency announced that it is funding a University of California project to limit emissions resulting in grease drippings with a special tray to catch them and a “catalytic” filtration system. The school said that the technology they will study with the EPA grant is intended to reduce air pollution and cut the health hazards to BBQ “pit masters” from propane-fueled cookers. Charged with keeping America’s air, water and soil clean, the EPA has been increasingly looking at homeowners, especially their use of pollution emitting tools like lawn mowers.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday 03-17-15

Dems push ATF to revive bullet ban

Congressional Democrats are pressuring the Obama administration to move ahead  “swiftly” with a proposal that would ban a form of armor-piercing ammunition.

In a draft letter first obtained by The Hill, Democrats are urging the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to use his “existing authority” to keep “dangerous ammunition out of our communities.”

“We hope that the Bureau will swiftly review comments on the proposed framework and issue a revised proposal that will address the danger posed by handguns that fire 5.56mm and other rifle ammunition,” Democrats write in the letter.

The ATF had sought to prohibit gun companies from manufacturing or selling 5.56 mm projectiles for M855 cartridges, arguing they are a threat to law enforcement officers because they can be used in handguns.

But the proposal generated a firestorm of opposition from Republicans and gun groups, who denounced it as an attack on the Second Amendment that could open the door to sweeping restrictions on ammunition.

With the backlash growing, the ATF backed down earlier this week, shelving the proposal indefinitely to allow time for “further study.”

House Democrats in their letter say they are “very disappointed” that the ATF delayed the rule. The proposal, they say, is true to the spirit of the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act, which Congress passed in 1986 to ensure that officers do “not face extreme safety risk from firearm technology.”

“It is critical to update this legislation as new technologies are developed in order to keep law enforcement officers and our communities safe," they write. "That is why we urge you not to drag out this delay and to act swiftly to keep armor-piercing ammunition that can be used in handguns off the street.”

Dozens of House Democrats, including Reps. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Jackie Speier (Calif.) and Steve Israel (N.Y.), are expected to sign the letter, which will be sent on Friday to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.

Jones declined to comment Thursday on whether his agency might reconsider the bullet ban at a future date, but he defended the plan as a "good faith effort" while testifying at a Senate hearing on the agency's budget.

"I want to make sure everyone understands that this was not — contrary to the blogosphere — an effort to completely ban that sort of cartridge,” he said.

While the ammunition has long been used by hunters in AR-15 rifles, the bullets can now also be used in handguns, which the ATF argues makes them a bigger threat to law enforcement officers.
Republicans and gun groups railed against the ATF proposal, calling it a “backdoor” attempt to restrict high-powered rifles, which are popular among hunters and sportsmen.

 “A lot of us are troubled at the ATF’s process and intent regarding this proposed ban,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. “It’s concerning to many of us that the new federal firearms regulations referenced that.”

The National Rifle Association led the lobbying charge, helping to flood the ATF with more than 90,000 comments, most of them critical.

“NRA members fought back as the tip of the spear,” Chris Cox, executive director of the group’s lobbying arm, told The Hill.

House and Senate Republicans mounted a pressure campaign of their own, demanding in letters to Jones that the rule be withdrawn.

“If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk,” said a letter signed by 53 Republican senators.

The White House declined Wednesday to weigh in directly on the bullet ban proposal, instead stressing that President Obama remains committed to reasonable gun regulations.

“The president’s commitment to putting in place common-sense rules that will protect Second Amendment rights, but also prevent those who shouldn’t have firearms from getting them, is as strong as ever,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday 03-16-15

I know you have been hearing it for years and years, but I would be remiss for not reminding you, this country at some point will pay the piper as far as our financial decisions we have made.

The surging dollar is a signal that a colossal financial event is just around the corner
The dollar is set for its strongest quarterly strengthening since 1992, according to Bank of America, a good sign that a rate hike is around the corner.
When markets expect that US interest rates will be hiked, it typically strengthens the dollar. That's because people rush to change other currencies into dollars — they can make more money in dollar-denominated investments. The higher demand for the US currency drives its value up.
In the past, significant dollar gains against other currencies have pretty much happened only during periods of extreme financial or geopolitical distress.
The last four large dollar shocks in the past 45 years have been symptoms of huge financial events: the collapse of Lehman, Britain's panicky ejection from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1992, the first Gulf War, and Paul Volcker's shock rate hikes in the early 1980s.
Today's surge is already considerably larger than the one that surrounded Lehman's collapse, although the economic conditions are very different.
Here's how it looks in historical context:
dollar shockBank of America Merrill Lynch
Here's a snippet from BAML's researchers:
In our view, another concern is that the move in the US dollar reflects a dislocation within the financial system. Capital flight to the US is a symptom of systemic risk in financial markets. Certainly dollar shocks in the past have been associated with major market events as shown in detail on Chart 8 (1981 Volker shock, 1992 ERM crisis, Lehman in 2008 and so on).
And yet despite the strength of the dollar move, apart from a few CDS events in EM, there is little sign from the components of our Global Financial Stress Index that systemic risks are surging. Most of the components are less stressed than normal.
Once again, the missing ingredient is a “rates shock”. 
The conditions in global markets right now are a historical anomaly. Rates around the world have been cut 558 times since the collapse of Lehman, according to BAML. So even a small, steady series of interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve is a colossal change in the global financial system — one that's sending the dollar through the roof.


What is the old saying "buy in the dips"  The only way to at least contain your wealth or buying power with your federal reserve notes is to purchase tangibles (food, clothing, your dwelling and so on) or buy in the dips is precious metals.

Gold futures settle higher despite dollar rally


The metal was headed for its sixth weekly loss in the past seven, down 1 percent so far and having hit its lowest in more than three months at $1,147.10 on Wednesday."It's almost like it's confused. It looks like it's trying to find itself,'' said Teddy Sloup, senior market strategist for iiTrader in Chicago.